Nicole Callräm

Agate Sea

Hard Times (Bemidji, Minnesota)

That army ID my friend got me sweated in my hand
through a swinging door into this wood-paneled biker bar.

                Heavy pours
of whiskey, local beer from one town over

revving motors groaned the bass beat to a cover band
pink sequin tank top     cheap pushup bra
a redhead with speckled feathers
braided into curls sang “Sweet child of mine”
with Billie Holiday heartache
              and I buzzed.

Onion rings and pizza flowed from the delta
of kitchen, poverty, and sweat.
               oh, I was young.

Too soft to slap away trucker hands from my swaying ass.
Too childish to appreciate my siren song of peach flavored
lip gloss and freckles.

Hard Times said the sign on the wall, and hard times were on offer
in this logging town grinding on the hips that birth
                 the Mississippi.

and cheap cigarettes,
I remembered
how my feet touched that spring emerging into a cradle
of northern agates and yellowed pine needles
How the raging waters of the future longed to swallow me whole

I kept on dancing.

Nicole Callräm (she/her/她) is a nomadic bureaucrat and disciple of existence in all its confusing manifestations. She adores rideshare bikes, red wine, and magnolia trees. Nicole has been published in Kissing Dynamite, Anti-Heroin Chic, Blue River Review, and Ayaskala. You can find her on Twitter at @YiminNicole

Next poem

Previous poem

Spring 2022